Director of strategy and programmes, Microsoft UK
Career so far I've had a number of channel-related roles at Microsoft as well as in our consultancy business, our customer unit and training. My career started in training, before I moved into value-added distribution with Azlan. That's where I got to know Microsoft, and later took a job here.
Do you care about green IT? Personally, I think it offers a great opportunity to change the nature of how we use technology to have a positive impact on the future of our planet. Moreover, green computing is an essential area for us as a business. We're increasingly looking for ways to cut our energy costs and encourage our customers to do the same by providing tools to help them reduce environmental impact.
If you could be in a rock/pop band, which one would it be and who would you be? Strangely enough, I came close to becoming a member of a "virtual" band at our big channel event (Microsoft Partner Network 2009) held last week in Wembley. We used the idea of seeking out virtual band members as a mechanism to help with partner networking - and I did get to try out Guitar Hero for the first time. Funnily enough, I think I probably should stick to my day job - no need for Mark Knopfler to move over!
What is the best corporate jolly you have ever been on/taken partners on? Corporate what? You'll have me feeling like I'm getting long in the tooth! The days of corporate jollies seem a long way away - although I do remember raising one eyebrow when I was in New Orleans at Microsoft's WorldWide Partner Conference earlier this year. Microsoft Partners certainly know how to "socialise"!
Has 2009 been as bad as everyone said it would be? It's certainly not been easy for many organisations that that have had to make tough decisions. But from this challenging year, I think we can all take some learnings - for example, the need to constantly reappraise our organisational effectiveness, the need to run leaner, more efficient technology systems and so on. Our commitment to providing partners with the tools they need to satisfy customers' changing needs, from innovation to cost savings continues regardless.
Have any of your predictions come true this year? Last year I predicted that online services would be a huge focus, with many businesses shifting to methods of digital selling and consumption. I think the advancements in technology and the greater options that online services offer are more widely recognised, and this is leading to increased adoption rates. Online services provide greater flexibility - in purchasing method and consumption - adding further to customer choice, which has to be good for everyone
What do you see as the channel's biggest challenge in 2010? Skilling. With many companies recovering from redundancies and continuing constraints caused by budget cuts, there's often a tendency to put training on the "back burner". Forward-looking companies are already investing in training to ensure they're ready to embrace the available opportunities in the upturn. One of the things we've noticed is a big uptake in the number of bookings for Microsoft training courses in the second half of this year.
What is the best part of your day? My days are incredibly varied, so it's hard to pick a "best" part of the day, although I do enjoy spending time at home with my family.